Setting up SEO for Your Blog
Let me just come right out and say this: I find the topic of SEO boring. I know that’s not the way to start a blog post. This topic is, however, EXTREMELY important and extremely helpful to bloggers. In this blog, I want to give a clear, simple explanation of how to work through this as a WordPress Blogger.
I did not intend to write a blog about SEO, but I had to do all this research three months ago and figured perhaps this information would be helpful to others as they are setting up their sites. As I was setting up my site, I had to learn a lot about this kind of thing. If you’re in the process of setting up a WordPress site, I recommend you also check out WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org to learn a bit about your options.
I find this kind of stuff (SEO) makes my head hurt (and I find it immensely boring), so I’ll try to make it clear and simple. It is, however, for a blogger, a necessary evil.
What is SEO
Simply put, SEO for a blog is important. It means Search Engine Optimization and involves the stuff that helps Google and Bing and Yahoo find your blog and let people know about it. It’s a good thing and if you’re writing a Blog, you’ll have to go for it. The more work you do in this area, the more people will see your blog (in searches) and the more followers and subscribers and traffic you’ll get.
What happens is this: search engines look around and collect information about your site. They also collect information about how your blog is being responded to and so forth. The more you fit the search engines expectations, the more likely you’ll be higher up on their ranking list and more likely you’ll be found in a search.
Make Google Happy
So, what you need to do is to set up some of the background information of your site in such a way that makes the search engines happy.
Here’s a site I used to learn some information about SEO: 31 Ways to Better WordPress SEO
This site is helpful! There are some things that I don’t understand (more things than I do, actually), but the nice thing about this guy is he points you toward plugins and options that you should be able to run with on your own without a lot of technical SEO knowledge. If you have a basic understanding of WordPress, you should be fine.
Note, when you’re installing plugins, I would recommend you take into consideration how many times it’s been installed and what kind of ratings it has. If it’s been installed a million times with a high rating, it’s probably decent. I would steer away from plugins that have not been downloaded much or have bad ratings. I am wary they might cause trouble for your site… maybe not… you just never know. 🙂
So, taken from the site mentioned above, I took a lot of steps to help my SEO. Here is what I did based on this guy’s advice (I left in the numbers he used). Below these tips, I lay out the results from the SEO work I did.
Tips for Setting up Your SEO
3. Install an .xml sitemap plugin
I used Google XML Sitemaps by Brachhold.
A sitemap is a file that lists the URLs for your site and includes some information about each of the URLs. Search engines use this to understand your site better.
4. Install an SEO plugin and start using rel=”canonical”
I used All in One SEO Pack and followed a bit of this plugin’s tutorial to get it up and running a bit better. You can just use standard settings, but I wanted to tweak it a bit according to the recommendations.
As for the rel=”canonical” part, that has to do with postings which have similar content to one another. If you post the same basic post twice and search engines see the same info twice, it can hurt your rankings and hinder your ability to be found. Soooo… find the post which is the one you really want found (out of all the similar ones) and use rel=”canonical”.
Here’s a link to a site that’ll tell you how to use rel=”canonical” on your post if you ever start posting similar content: Complete Guide to rel=”canonical” – How to and Why Not
7. Use a caching plugin to speed up your blog
I used W3 Total Cache.
It is irritating when you try to load a page and it just comes in slowly. This will help speed up your site. That’s good.
10. Block spam comments
Here’s the problem… if your comments on your post have nasty things in them or are promoting inappropriate things, it can hurt your rankings. There are also trolls out there who just like to be grumpy and complain and will take the opportunity to do that in comments. I don’t want their grumpiness on my blog. I don’t know if it hurts my rankings, but I don’t like it. Some people are just grumpy and are looking for a fight. I don’t want my blog taken over by their need for attention or conflict.
Because of these things, I set my comments so they need to be approved, unless they have posted before. I also don’t allow people to post links without approval. You can make these changes in Settings: Discussion.
12. While writing new blogs, link to your old blogs
I didn’t know this helped! Now that I know, I can implement this! Simply put, while you are writing a new post, link to your previous posts (within that new post). This will help search engines connect up your blogs with various topics which then help people find you! Don’t just use a plugin here, link it within your blog post! Note, just don’t link to unimportant pages (like your contact page). People will find that if they need it. This is mentioned later on in this guy’s article, but I included it in this section.
So connect up similar topics, one with another. This will not only help search engines, but then your readers can click from one post to another to follow through on the topics.
19. Integrate Social Media sharing buttons in your posts
Simply put, the more “likes” you get here and there, the better. Get the word out across social media and it’ll get more attention. This causes the search engines to like you more and they give you more attention! A bit of a snowball effect (for those in places which have snow).
23. Add fresh new posts frequently
Don’t be surprised if you post something new and lots of people come! Post and post a lot! I’m aiming for once to twice a week. I will probably try to do more at the first and then back off since I don’t have all the time in the world.
Now, one of the things the guy who wrote 31 Ways to Better WordPress SEO recommends is that you post consistently. So if you have five posts ready to go up and then won’t be posting for another month, you’re probably better to hold four of them and post one a week. Post consistently, rather than post a lot today and nothing for a while.
The following is cut and paste from this site. It’s really good (I would strongly recommend you make your way through his entire post, don’t just read mine):
Bonus Advice: be smart yourself, don’t insensibly trust others
This one is a bit different from the rest of the suggestions but it’s applicable for many new bloggers and site owners. I’ve seen them starting out on knowledge sucking sprees. They try to stuff their brains with as much as random blogging and web development knowledge as possible in as less time as possible. This results in them not sticking to a particular strategy and implementing hundreds and thousands of unimportant and useless things on their sites which not only do no good to them, but occasionally also hurt their sites.
Like everything else, growing a site requires patience and a working brain. Just use your brain and think whether a particular SEO strategy is right for your blog and implement or don’t implement it based on that.
So… putting that into practice… don’t just do everything that you’re told to do. Implement some of it, see how it works and go for stuff that works for you! Make it unique. It’s not someone else’s blog, it’s yours!
Now, for me, I wanted to see instant results and figured I would probably see an increase in traffic right away. I assumed that within a few days I’d be getting a lot of new attention. I’m an optimist and quite content with my overwhelming hope.
As I looked into it, however, I found out that SEO takes three to six months to really take effect. That’s 90-180 days. To drive home the point, that means it could take 7.5 to 15 million seconds for you to see results. Be patient.
I did all this SEO work in the first week after setting up my blog. I would recommend you do the same. If you haven’t taken steps like these, start implementing them right away. Whenever you do this, you’ll still have to wait 7.5 to 15 million seconds before seeing results. It’s worth starting now.
Just one more thing… let me give you some details. I set up my blog on August 12, 2017. Today is August 15, 2017 (the date of writing this blog). I’m not likely to post this particular blog today as I feel it’s wise to sit on it for a little bit in order to let the topic and information settle and so I can re-read it with fresh eyes. Also, I want to see the results over the long term with a Google search.
It’s been three days since my site went up. I Googled this evening for “Self Publishing on a Budget Shawn Robinson”. You would think that would bring them right here, but my site didn’t show up on the front page of search results at all. I didn’t keep looking past the first page of search results. The first page is kind of the important one.
I am told that it takes 3-6 months for the SEO to really take effect for your site. Hopefully in 7.5 to 15 million seconds it’ll show up there!
Update: November 16, 2017
Okay, we are three months in. I think we are a little over 7.5 million seconds. I Googled my site again with the same search, “Self Publishing on a Budget Shawn Robinson” as above. Aside from all the Ads that appear, there were 10 results. The first 8 were my blog! I also searched for “Shawn Robinson Publishing” and my blog comes up first and then my Facebook author page comes up twice a little later on.
So, SEO simply takes time! Get implementing this on your site as early as possible so that the results can come in! The longer you wait, the more invisible your site is to the rest of the world!
Comment below with your SEO advice!